Security

Yet Another Malware Attack Spreads via Twitter

Guy Kawasaki -- a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who was partially responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984 -- has almost 140,000 Twitter followers. Many of those followers likely thought it was strange that Kawasaki was suddenly into shilling porn, when a link purporting to host a pornographic video of "Gossip Girl" star Leighton Meester appeared on June 23. Anyone who downloaded the video discovered a virus that ravaged both PCs and Macs.

Antivirus organization Sophos posted a YouTube video explaining how the attack worked. As the Sophos video shows, the attack affected Macs. It can be taken for granted that the malware also infected PCs, because, well, everything infects PCs.

The malicious link has been disabled and no longer prompts visitors to download viruses.

Kawasaki claimed no responsibility for spreading the malware. He told his followers that his account was not hacked, but rather a page or its feed that he linked to was hacked. Kawasaki's Twitter account is hooked up to NowPublic, a user-contributed news site, and this tasty tidbit was filtered through into his account. Kawasaki also claims to have no idea who Leighton Meester is.

Twitter is no stranger to malware. Earlier this month, Twitter spam spread a worm that crippled Windows-based machines. There were also the Twitter worm attacks of April and May.

Twitter itself does not, and will not, filter links. It's the responsibility of the user and the reader to make judgment calls about whether they'd like to read about the Iran elections or expend kempt-up energy on porn. The difficulty comes in the form of condensed URLs -- many users have no idea what they're clicking on, and by the time the mistake has been uncovered, it may be too late. It's particularly troubling when infected links appear on ultra-popular user sites that many people have grown to trust.

The Kawasaki Incident shouldn't tarnish your trust of all Twitter users, especially the megalithic ones. But if Oprah sends you off to scope out a raunchy video of Twilight's Edward Cullen, exercise a little self-restraint.

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